How to Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes at Home

Can you really wash dry clean only clothes at home?

Yes! With a few exceptions...   (see list below for items best taken to the professionals)

drying rack with delicates

Your success will depend on the type of fabric, how the garment is put together, the dyes used, and the printing process used on the fabric. Also your hand laundering success is dependent on the amount of dirt and stains on the fabric.

For best results always use cold water and a gentle cleanser - some gentle liquid face soaps work well. Hand wash by dipping the fabric in and out of the sudsy water. Gently scrub with your fingertips the areas of heavy soil like the armpits and the neck line. *Never use bleaches, regular laundry cleansers, fabric softeners, or rinse additives.

After you have hand washed your dry clean only, garments roll them tightly in an absorbent towel. Then unroll the towel and move the garment to a dry part of the towel and roll again. Continue this until garment no longer feels drippy. It may take 2-5 rollings. Never wring or twist your dry clean only garment - even when they are in the towel.

If the garment is stretchy like a sweater you will want to re-shape and dry flat on top of your clothes drying rack. If it is made of silk, wool or other natural animal fibers you should not place your rack in the direct sunlight.

Before drying, give your clothing a gentle shake - this separates the front from the back of the material for faster drying time as well as removing any wrinkles caused by the rolling process.

Tops and dresses should be hung by the shoulders. Be sure to straighten the collars into the position you want them to dry in. If it is a very windy day you may need to add a few clothespins to keep items on the clothesline. If it is a rainy or very cold day, you can hang your items on a clothes airer in your house. For faster drying times, place the clothes drying rack near a register or a fan.

These items are NOT safe to hand wash and are best taken to the drycleaners:

  • Clothing that is made from acetate fibers.
  • Leather or suede items
  • There is a special finish on the garment, such as fabrics that are stiff. These may have a stabilizing finish to maintain the stiffness.
  • It is a rayon garment. Rayon often shrinks - however it usually only shrinks once. So if that dress is too big or long you could try hand washing it. Once its shrunk it is unlikely to shrink again.
  • The garment is very special to you - and you would be sad if washing by hand changed the garment in anyway.

Disclaimer: You are responsible for any suggestions you choose to follow, or not follow. This advice is offered for consideration with no guarantee of safety or effectiveness. Use this information at your own risk.